Woods Sets High Expectations in Motion

By Associated PressJanuary 31, 2006, 5:00 pm
SAN DIEGO -- Tiger Woods stepped into the chill of the evening and headed to the airport for a 20-hour flight to Dubai, plenty of time to contemplate how fortunate he was to escape Torrey Pines with another victory and to wonder where it will take him the rest of the year.
Expectations figure to be greater than ever.
Woods once said the public tends to exaggerate the state of his game, perhaps because he can make it look easy. Win one tournament and people say he's unbeatable. Go a month without winning and he's in a slump.
'I've been out here long enough to have seen both ends of the spectrums,' Woods said of the expectations. 'They're always high. They've seen what I can do, and they think I can hit some shots. It's awfully nice that they think I can do that.'
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods ran his record to 9-1 in PGA Tour playoffs.
But his track record suggests another big year could be in the making.
His playoff victory Sunday in the Buick Invitational was the fourth time in his 10 years on the PGA Tour that Woods began the season with a victory. Each time, more trophies quickly followed.
In his first full season, he beat Tom Lehman in the '97 Mercedes Championships at La Costa by sticking a 7-iron inches from the cup on the first playoff hole. Three months later, the legend was born when he overwhelmed Augusta National to win the Masters by 12 shots.
Woods opened his historic 2000 season at Kapalua in a terrific battle with Ernie Els, matching eagles and birdies on the 18th hole before beating the Big Easy on the second playoff hole with a 40-foot birdie putt. By year's end, he had three straight majors among his nine victories.
And when he missed eight weeks recovering from knee surgery, Woods returned to the PGA Tour in 2003 by shutting down Phil Mickelson and his 'inferior equipment' comments to win by four shots at Torrey Pines. Woods won two of his next three starts, including an 11-shot victory at Bay Hill, and ended the year with five wins.
Woods came close to missing out on the three-man playoff Sunday.
He was in an eight-way tie for the lead with six holes to play on the South Course, and was lucky no one else got hot enough to pull away. Struggling with the speed of the bumpy, poa annua greens throughout the final round, Woods three-putted three times, yet came up with two big par saves on the 16th and 17th.
And after running a length-of-the-green eagle putt 8 feet by the hole on the par-5 18th, he steadied himself to pour in the birdie putt to join Jose Maria Olazabal and Australian rookie Nathan Green in the playoff.
'Quite frankly, I shouldn't have even been in the playoff,' Woods said.
From there, the outcome was no surprise.
Woods had two putts to win -- an 8-footer on the 18th in the playoff, and a 35-footer on the par-3 16th -- but got through when his opponents faltered. From about 40 feet away, Green took three shots to reach the green on the 18th and made bogey. On the next hole, Olazabal failed to capitalize on a sensational bunker shot by missing a tricky 4-foot par putt down the hill.
Woods now is 9-1 in playoffs on the PGA Tour, and 12-1 worldwide. Billy Mayfair has become the answer to a trivia question as the only player to beat him (in the '98 Nissan Open at Valencia).
Along with his record, however, there is another reason why expectations are rising.
A year ago, Woods won at Torrey Pines in the fog by overcoming a two-shot deficit on the back nine to surge past Lehman and Luke Donald. It was an important victory, because it ended a 16-month drought of stroke-play titles on the PGA Tour while Woods retooled his swing.
He spent the rest of 2005 alternating between brilliant and ordinary -- two majors (the Masters and British Open), six victories, but also two missed cuts.
A year later, he is much closer to understanding his swing and learning how to fix it when it goes bad.
Woods took the longest self-imposed break of his career -- six weeks, not even touching a club the first 24 days -- and there was sure to be some rust. But he corrected his problems in a hurry.
He started the Buick Invitational by hitting only one out of 14 fairways on the pitch-and-putt North Course and shooting 71. But on the back nine of the South Course on the weekend, when he could have easily slipped out of contention, he rarely missed a tee shot.
He hit all but one of the final six fairways Sunday to give himself a chance.
'It's always more meaningful to do it whenever you have to,' Woods said. 'I had no choice. I had to hit the ball in play to give myself chances because I was behind. On the back nine, hitting the shots like I did off the tees, it felt just as good as hitting those last two shots at Augusta, when I absolutely had to.'
The reference was to his playoff victory in the Masters last year. His best two shots were on the first extra hole, when he hit 3-wood in play and 8-iron to 15 feet for his fourth green jacket.
The Masters is more than two months away, and Woods will have six more tournaments to get ready. That starts this week at the Dubai Desert Classic, a field that includes Ernie Els.
'Last year, I had a long way to go. I had a lot of different things I needed to fix to be ready for Augusta,' Woods said. 'This year, the list is a lot shorter, and the changes aren't as big. From that standpoint, I've got a head start.'
And winning his first event of the year never hurts.
Related Links:
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Dubai Desert Classic
  • Getty Images

    Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

    Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

    The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

    Getty Images

    Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

    By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

    JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

    Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

    The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

    Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

    Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

    Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

    Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

    None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

    Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

    An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

    In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

    Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

    Playing with the pros

    Tiger, DJ and Faxon

    Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

    Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

    Rory faces criticism

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

    Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

    President at the Presidents Cup

    Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

    Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

    Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

    Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

    Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

    Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

    Cart on the green

    Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

    Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

    Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

    Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

    Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

    Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

    Trump golf properties


    Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

    Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


    Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

    Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

    Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

    Reportedly fake TIME covers

    Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

    Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

    Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

    Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

    Pros comment on the president

    Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

    Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm